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March 30, 2005

NYTimes’ Grokster Writeup [7:53 am]

Plus some quite uncertain coverage of Brand X: Lively Debate as Justices Address File Sharing

The much-heralded Supreme Court showdown in the Grokster case between old-fashioned entertainment and newfangled technology found the justices surprisingly responsive on Tuesday to warnings from Grokster, the software maker that allows Internet users to share computer files on peer-to-peer networks, that a broad definition of copyright infringement could curtail innovation.

[...] That Justice Souter, the least technically minded of the justices - he still drafts his opinions by hand on a legal pad - could even invite a dialogue about Apple iPods, much less suggest that he could be tempted to engage in illegal file sharing, was an indication of how this confrontation of powerful interests had engaged the court.

But by the end of the lively argument pitting Grokster and its allies on the electronic frontier against the entertainment community’s stalwart defense of intellectual property rights, any prediction about what the court will actually decide appeared perilous. The justices themselves seemed taken aback by the procedural complexities of the case, Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios v. Grokster Ltd., No. 04-480, which moved through the lower federal courts on summary judgment, without a trial.

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